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Part 57 - 57d: Hooks

A very complex part number, with several changes and renumberings, makes the hook one of the most tricky parts to accurately classify. Let's start with an overview...

57Hook 19011940170n/an/a
57aScientific Hook 1908194060n/an/a
57bLoaded Hook (Large) 1922-211N°8
57cLoaded Hook (Small) 1934-n/a142N°1
57dWire Hook 1927-000n/aCrane hook from 1976
The five different hook parts and their main variations
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Loading picture Hooks

The parts

The photograph to the right shows the main variations in the hooks through the years.  As you can see, the parts 57 and 57a have only one main type, and both were only pre-war parts.

Part 57b: Large/Dinky

The large loaded hook was introduced in 1922, and remained with minor variations until the takeover of Meccano by Lines Bros in 1964.  In the March 1965 price list, part 57b is shown as the large barrel-type hook, but this was changed to 57c in the September price list of the same year, so we can probably assume this was a printing error.  Part 57b is not referenced again until 1969, when the Dinky-type hook was renumbered to this part number.  The 57b Dinky hook was supplied in outfits 1 and 2 (renumbered to outfits 2 and 3 in 1970) from this point until it was dropped in 1978.

Much of this research was originally done by Clive Weston in 2000, by digging through all the known manuals and price lists of the period.

A picture of the new hooks in the old-style spaces.
This is a very early silver/yellow/black outfit 8
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Loading picture Hooksinwrongspace

Part 57c: Small/Barrel

Part 57c was originally the small loaded hook, as shown at the top of the column in the photo.  These small hooks were also dropped in 1965, to be replaced by the large barrel-type hook shown at the bottom of the same column.  From 1966 to 1969 it appears that part 57c was the only hook available as a spare part, described as a Small Loaded Hook, but at the price previously charged for the large hook (part 57b).  It seems that parts 57b and 57c were inconsistently used in the manuals between 1965 and 1969, referring to the Dinky-type smaller hook and the barrel-type larger hook.  In actual fact, the Dinky-type hook was being supplied in outfits 1 to 3, and the barrel-type hook for outfits 4 and above.  The outfit 10 of this period contained three barrel-type hooks (not one large and two small as previously supplied).  It appears that for a time part 57c was the only hook part number available, but the actual part supplied depended upon the outfit number.

For the most part, it is very misleading to refer too much to the pictures in the manuals. These are notoriously out of date and (certainly in the case of this part) do not reflect what was included in the outfits. The spare parts price lists are probably more accurate. The chronology is as follows:

For the sake of clarity, then, we will refer to the Dinky-type hook as part 57b and the Barrel-type hook as part 57c throughout. The May 1965 parts lists incorrectly shows the part number, the September 1965 parts list shows the wrong price, but other than that they are consistent. The manuals gradually show a change throughout this period of printing, to the final situation in the 70's that matches our lists. In reality, the smallest outfit contained the wire hook part 57d, the next two larger outfits contained the Dinky-type hook part 57b, and all larger outfits contained only the barrel-type hook part 57c.

Part 57d: Wire/Crane

Part 57d has been used for three distinct parts over the years.  Originally it was the plain wire hook as used in the crane grab (part 150), which you can see from the picture is the basis for the later small loaded hooks (with a lead ball formed around it).  This became obsolete in 1940.  In 1962 the part number was reinstated as a simple wire hook, very similar in design but without the long straight section.  This wire hook was supplied in outfit 0 from 1962, but was removed from the parts listing in 1966 when outfit 0 was withdrawn.  The part number remained in some model "parts required" listings.  When outfits were renumbered in 1970, the new set 1 was effectively a reinstated "set 0" of the 60's, and the wire hook part 57d was included in this outfit.

In 1976, the new Crane Multikit featured the new large crane-type hook shown at the bottom of the column. This was originally numbered 57d (in the earliest manuals), but creates its own confusion as this part is shown as part 57a in later versions of the same manual.

Chronological variations

Now we have the basics covered, let's look at the variations within each part.  The simple wire hook part 57 was originally flat from the start of the MME period until 1911, when it became twisted by 90 degrees.  Originally plain steel, it became brass plated but for most of the pre-war era it was enamelled black.

Part 57a, the scientific hook, is a part from the HSMD.  It was designed to hang the small disc weights on.  Some versions of this part have the eye fully closed.  It is very simple to make reproductions of this part from piano wire, so we have to be a bit careful.

DMS/EMP shows the early type of the large loaded hook as black, with the eye very close to the ball.  It then states that in 1927 the ball became slightly smaller (9/16'' instead of 5/8''), and both of these are shown in black and red. Very soon after, the ball was lowered on the same hook former, allowing room for the part to be bolted to a strip by its eye.

Early black, later black (with lowered ball), pre-war red
of the same design, and post-war red with larger ball
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Loading picture Largehooks This is partially correct, but not completely. The photograph to the right shows the development of the part. The very first version had the small ball, mounted high up. It was very soon moved down, presumably to allow the hook to be bolted to a strip (as EMP says), and this black version is by far the most common pre-war version; certainly most of the 20's and into the 30's. At a later date (perhaps 1937?) the hook changed to pre-war medium red (third example). The post-war large loaded hook has the ball increased in size from approximately 16mm to 17½mm, with the bottom at the same level as before, and hence the long 'eye' disappears (as the hook uses the same steel former as a base).

It's easy to confuse this increase in size with the early parts where the ball itself moved but remained the same size. Most red (and all light red) hooks are like the right-hand version in this photograph. There are occasional oddities, including a version with an even smaller ball, but these may well have been transitional versions or even mistakes. The vast majority of loaded hooks you will come across are the second and fourth in the photograph above.

Pre-war black 57c, and larger post-war red 57c
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Loading picture Smallloadedhooks According to DMS/EMP, the early small loaded hook also changed its size, from a 7/16'' ball to 3/8''.  It was available in black and red, and another example is shown as having an open eye and a shorter top section. 

Again, from examples studied here, pre-war examples seem to be the smallest (9½mm ball), in both black and red, but by the mid-50's the size of the ball increases to 11mm and the wire base is longer too. This hook is again available in medium red and (from 1958) in light red.

The latest barrel-type hook was originally black, later zinc-plated and in 1975 the sides of the barrel-type hook were flattened. Martin Hanson has dated this change to around 1968.

Graeme Eldred points out that this final hook is used (painted yellow) in the Mogul 3299 Mobile Crane. Does anyone know any non-Meccano uses of the Barrel hook?

The wire versions of part 57d didn't change significantly, although there are two versions of the later crane hook.  Originally the central pin was integral to the hook (as shown on the version in the photograph at the top of this page).  Later versions don't have this pin, but have one side tapped to the Meccano thread so that a bolt can be used as a pin.

Variations and oddities

There are various forms of the Dinky-type hook (57c, later 57b), but we have to be careful which ones we assume are part of the Meccano system.  Since this part was borrowed from the Dinky line, many parts found in Meccano collections could easily be Dinky parts rather than original Meccano ones.  Only unopened outfits can provide definitive answers.
Bag of part 57d wire hook
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Loading picture Hooksspareparts

Dealer spare parts boxes

Boxes of light red large and small loaded hooks
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Loading picture Hooksspareparts2 Above are boxes of the large and small loaded hooks (57b and 57c), in light red, dating from 1958 to 1964. The colour is identified by the light green labels on the boxes. To the right is a bag of part 57d, the small wire hooks, dating from the 60's.

Individual part numbers

Part numbers for the parts on this page are as follows:    Unique part numbers
For identification, each variation has been given a suffix to the main Meccano part number. These suffixes consist of a two-character code for the colour, and if there are many variations, a further number and sometimes letter code to identify each variation. See the bottom of the 'Parts' page for further details.

You don't need to worry what the codes are, just click on any one for a photograph.

The button above turns on and off the display of DMS numbers (where they are known). The DMS (Development of the Meccano System, Hauton and Hindemarsh) published in 1972 and added to in 75 and 82, suggested part numbers for every variation of every Meccano part. These numbers aren't perfect, but they are recognised and also referenced in the EMP (Encyclopedia of Meccano Parts, Don Blakeborough).

More about bosses More about stampings More about paint colours

Neils Gottlob's line drawings (where available) can be viewed by clicking the part number at the top of the table.

Plain wire hook, flat01.mm.st   
Plain wire hook, eye closed?? .st1   
Plain wire hook, twisted 90°11.st    
Brass wire14.br    
Painted black15.bk .bk.bk.bk
Bronze finished wire39.xx    
Painted black, small lead ball lowered on former27  .bk1  
Painted red, small lead ball??  .re.re 
Large lead ball, medium red47  .mr.mr 
Large lead ball, light red58  .lr.lr 
Shorter wire hook, nickel plated62    .ni
Shorter wire hook, zinc plated66?    .zn
New hook design, painted black ¹65  .bk2.bk2 
New hook design, zinc casting ¹68?  .zn.zn 
Dinky toy hook, painted black with wire hook ¹??  .bk3  
Barrel-type hook, painted dark red??   .dr 
Barrel-type hook, zinc with flattened sides75   .zn1 
Barrel-type hook, matt brass with flattened sides78   .mb 
Barrel-type hook, iridescent with flattened sides79   .ir 
Crane multikit hook, with integral pin75    .zn1
Crane multikit hook, without integral pin??    .zn2
Note: ¹  See 'chronogical variations' above for discussion about the barrel and dinky-type new hook designs. For the purposes of this table, part 57b refers to the small Dinky-type hook, part 57c is the larger Barrel-type hook.

Please send us pictures of missing parts! Hints and tips for pictures
Take a picture of the part in very good light, preferably on a plain yellow background, without a flash but with a tripod.
Ideally, trim the picture to about 150 pixels per inch of the Meccano part (unless the part is particularly big or small), save it as a reasonably good quality jpg file with a filename of exactly the part number, for example 19b.ni1.jpg, and email it to us by clicking on 'Contact us' at the top of the page. Thanks!

Further information

Total number of messages on this page: 10.  This is page 1 of 2.   Next

Michael Hewitt      (at 5:13am, Sat 28th Jan, 23)

According to the Crane Multikit manual I have, the hook is 57a, not 57d as recorded here.

kbisset      (at 11:25am, Thu 12th May, 16)

Incidentally, the missing picture referred to below, 57b.bk, seems to imply that it was introduced in 1915, while the table at the top suggests it was introduced in 1922. Which is correct?

kbisset      (at 11:21am, Thu 12th May, 16)

I have placed a picture of an apparently early 57b in my gallery. Someone may move or copy it to this page to fill in a missing detail photo.

Nick Smith      (at 11:16am, Sun 4th May, 14)

WRT to the small loaded hook version of 57c,
I assume the shorter version of the former on LHS in the chronological picture is 57c.bk, short former, small ball, black; although it isn't illustrated in the Individual part numbers table.
Moreover I assume that there is the same thing in pre war Medium red for 57c.re
However, my earliest 57c Light Loaded hook has this short (29.1 mm ) wire former but with the larger 11mm ball so close to the eye (which is more pear drop than circular) that it couldn't be attached to a strip by nut & bolt, with very little medium red paint remaining
My next 57c Light Loaded hook which has even less medium red paint remaining, belongs to a set 3 with 1948 manual, though bought in early '50s. This has the longer 31.5 mm wire former and an 11.35 mm ball as per illustration of 57.cmr so spaced off the eye
My third is almost the same (slightly smaller 10.7mm ball) in Light red from a 1958 set 0A, 57c.lr (battle scarred but mostly still red)
My last, from a 1963 set 3, also light red, has a much more circular eye, with the wire curving much more sharply into the eye and to the end of the wire
I suggest that 2 more codes are needed, for short hook with larger ball, and Light red with more pronouncedly circular eye
Part 57c.mb is of course the pinless side of a barrel hook

Nick Smith      (at 4:39am, Mon 14th Apr, 14)

Part 57c.zn1 and Part 57c.ir have their pictures transposed, the former is the shiny one. They show opposite sides of a hook of the same hand. Part 57c.mb shows the pin side of a hook of the other hand

Nick Smith      (at 3:27am, Sun 13th Apr, 14)

Handed barrel hooks : I have 4 of the zinc grooved barrel type hooks, 1 without flats which I believe I bought as a spare in Dec 1979 when I bought quite a few spares to make up for a lack of 5X, 7X and 8X sets - I think this is the one without flats. The other 3, from 3X,8X and Super Highway sets found in HK in 1981-1983, have flats. These are handed. One side of the hook has a slightly raised boss around the hole and on the same side, a moulded raised head of a pin, within the lower portion of the flat (on the 3 with flats). If the hooks are placed with this pin upper most, the flatless and 2 of the flatted have hooks open to the right while one of the flatted is open to the left.

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